23 June 1961 - Antarctic Treaty

23 June 1961 - Antarctic Treaty

On 23 June 1961, the Antarctic Treaty entered into force. It was the first international treaty to ban nuclear testing, amongst other military activities, within a specified region. The Antarctic Treaty holds the distinction of being the first international treaty established during the Cold War that included substantial arms control provisions.

Any nuclear explosions in Antarctica ... shall be prohibited.Article V of the Antarctic Treaty

The Antarctic Treaty’s main aims are to demilitarize the continent, to promote international scientific cooperation and to set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty. The Protocol on Environment Protection to the Antarctic Treaty designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science” and bans the exploitation of oil and natural gas fields found in the Ross Sea. The Treaty applies to the area south of 60° South Latitude, including all ice shelves and islands.

The Antarctic Treaty is a unique example of international cooperation. Its main focus is to ensure that Antarctica is used for peaceful purposes only.United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the 50th Anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty

As of June 2012, 48 States had joined the Antarctic Treaty. Any United Nations Member State can join the Antarctic Treaty by adhering to its provisions.

CTBTO Monitoring Stations in the Antarctica

The Antarctica Treaty also contributes indirectly to banning nuclear testing elsewhere. Thirteen of the 337 International Monitoring System stations of the network being established by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) are being established there. They represent three of the four verification technologies used to monitor the globe for nuclear explosions. The extreme remoteness and climatic conditions make the operation and maintenance of these stations particularly challenging. An example is Infrasound Station IS55 (United States).


There are few places on Earth where there has never been war, where the environment is fully protected, and where scientific research has priority.British Antarctic Survey